Monday, February 27, 2012

Want A Horribly Ruined Car for $100,000?

When Jay-Z and Kanye West destroyed the love-it-or-hate-it Maybach super sedan for their collaborative music video "Otis" we hoped assumed that would be the last we saw of it, aside from maybe a few parts salvaged from it ending up on Honda Civics around the LA area. We were wrong, and I mean seriously wrong. Phillips DePury, the famed NY art auction house, is offering the battered-by-a-rapper-like-it-was-Rhianna vehicle with an estimated starting bid of $100,000.

The auction is scheduled for March 8th, with public viewings of the car from February 25th - March 8th. The sale is to benefit the "Save the Children" foundation, which we can only assume is a charity that saves children from having to see something like this ever again.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

When You Think of Offroading In a Benz, is This What Comes to Mind?

Most people rightly imagine the trail-pummeling Unimog, the classically boxy Gelandewagen, or perhaps even the ML (if you're crazy enough) as a proper off-road Benz, but this is what I want to be riding in when the Zombie Apocalypse comes.

Featured in the video above is the backbone of the German military elite, a vehicle so massive and imposing it probably could have won the war on sheer intimidation factors alone if enough had been made. These vehicles served as everything from staff cars to radio vehicles and all with nothing more than 100-110 horsepower under that massive hood. The horses come from an inline-8 engine that also produced a more important number, 208 lb-ft of torque. The 8,150 lb vehicle could only achieve a top speed of 42-mph, so they weren't going to outrun any Allied aircraft that had them in their sights, but with only 57 ever produced, and only three known today to be absolutely authentic, finding one on the battlefield would have been more difficult than asking the French to defend themselves. Technical mastery of the Engineers at Mercedes is evident by the G4's two electric fuel pumps (a primary and a redundant) plus another mechanical pump, and should all three fail, there is a gravity fed line from a separate fuel tank.

One example was the recipient of a painstaking three-year restoration at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Germany, and was offered by their dealer network in Spain as a gift to the Spanish Royal Family. That particular rig was originally presented to Spain's General Franco and thus, the restoration was ordered to be mechanically perfect yet retain the patina of history it had acquired inside and further required the retention of as many original parts as possible. One example of this was the inspection and reuse, where possible, of every original nut, bolt and sleeve. Further attention to detail includes painting the chassis by brush rather than spraying, as it was originally done, resulting in the technically-accurate brush strokes remaining visible. Even the electric clock was timed and painstakingly calibrated over a period of several weeks. The paint and bodywork was left essentially untouched and the restoration was completed. Judging by the pictures below, it seems they succeeded spectacularly.

Photo credits Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, Germany

2013 S-class W222 Full Revealed In Spy Art

More info is coming out about the upcoming S-class replacement for the Mercedes-Benz's world-leading flagship. Recent spy shots have shown an even more revealing look at the eventual body structure, and we now know the car will feature a full width panorama top that will be an improvement over the current version. We also know there will be a slew of variants, everything from Pullman's to an S-class coupe (formerly the CL class) and for the very first time, that little line on the roof of your CL might actually be there for a reason because MB plans to offer a convertible coupe as well. Some have speculated on a full four door cabriolet like the Ocean Drive concept, but we have a hard time believing that one's going to make it into production.

The above image is an artist's representation of the car stark naked. We're glad to see the current CLS style droopy eyes that other sites have speculated don't seem to be in the cards, with slightly more vertical and aggressive lenses taking their place. This should be one mean beast, especially in AMG livery.

Artist rendition courtesy "Marrs" @


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stop Me if You Think You've Heard This One Before

Something has stuck with me since the Detroit Auto Show last month and I finally figured out what it is. Chevrolet introduced two concept cars, the Tru 140S and the Code 130R, both of which are rather appealing in their own way, yet I couldn't shake the feeling that I already knew these fella's.

The Tru 140S seems to ape the general lines of the Mitsubishi Eclipse, a car that was born in 1998 and has had the swoopy profile update since 2006.

Then we have the Code 130R, all I have to say here is "Hmmmmmmm" while giving Chevy the old Schoolmarm stare down, waiting for them to admit their guilt in the styling department. Maybe in Detroit the BMW 1 Series is rare enough to justify the homage but in the rest of the world we've been seeing them regularly since 2004. All in all, while the cars are pretty striking, Ricky Ricardo might suggest "Chevy, you have some 'splainin' to do!"

Friday, February 24, 2012

Speaking of the new Viper we remembered how much we liked the old logo, which is being updated for the new version. Our affinity for the snake charmer isn't based on a love of serpents but solely because when you flip the hood badge upside down it looks exactly like Donald Duck!

2013 Viper Revealed by Unlikely Source

Image by Marrs

Hot Wheels blew the cover of the upcoming Viper (no longer a "Dodge" product) when images from it's 2012 catalog of new toy cars was leaked from a source in South America. While several sites offered grainy images, we decided to clean it up and show us a realistic image of what we can expect.

On a personal note, I find this especially funny because when I was young, my mother saw a Hot Wheels rendition of the stock car version of the first Dodge Avenger well before production images were released, and she liked the way it looked so much she told my father, "I want one of those!" so he dutifully placed an order for what was to be one of the first Avengers off the production line. Keep in mind that stock cars look very little like their real life counterparts, and toy cars sometimes less so, but she was very pleased when her sight-unseen car arrived exactly as ordered, no holes drilled for plates or dealer decals. Heck, mom has been known to refuse delivery of special ordered cars if the dealer failed to follow these instructions. I hope she sees this post.  :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Live In Portland? Own a Funky Ride?

BMW 507 from 2011 "Cars In the Park" exhibit

If you live near Portland, Oregon or are willing to travel to the city for car events, please consider joining the Portland Alternative Car Club's Facebook page. It's a place for owners and admirers of unique automobilia to gather and discuss their cars. More importantly it will serve as a direct means of communication for it's members (free to join as of now, no dues!) so they may plan gatherings, day trips, informal tech sessions, charity shows, and more.

You don't have to own a car to join, and all makes and models are welcome so long as there is some redeeming uniqueness to the vehicle. The club states a preference towards German and British marques, but again, all are welcome.

Portland Alternative Car Club

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ever Wondered Why You Can't Pump Your Own Gas In Oregon?

 Evil gas pumps want to murder you and your car!

Since 1951 the population of the entire state of Oregon has been banned from pumping their own gasoline (oddly, they can pump their own diesel). The only other state in the Union to mandate similar action is New Jersey.  How could two states that could not be more different from one another necessitate similar "safety measures" to protect the public at large? Here's the full statute as written into Oregon law specifically explaining why it's residents are banned from pump duty. While it reads a bit like the writings of a paranoid agoraphobic who sees dangers around every corner, as Oregon residents ourselves, we kinda' enjoy pretending to be a low speed Jensen Button sailing into the pits for a top off as we prepare for the next lap (or text the wife to see what she needs from the grocery). 

The Legislative Assembly finds and declares that:
      (1) The dispensing of Class 1 flammable liquids by dispensers properly trained in appropriate safety procedures reduces fire hazards directly associated with the dispensing of Class 1 flammable liquids;
      (2) Appropriate safety standards often are unenforceable at retail self-service stations in other states because cashiers are often unable to maintain a clear view of and give undivided attention to the dispensing of Class 1 flammable liquids by customers;
      (3) Higher liability insurance rates charged to retail self-service stations reflect the dangers posed to customers when they leave their vehicles to dispense Class 1 flammable liquids, such as the increased risk of crime and the increased risk of personal injury resulting from slipping on slick surfaces;
      (4) The dangers of crime and slick surfaces described in subsection (3) of this section are enhanced because Oregon’s weather is uniquely adverse, causing wet pavement and reduced visibility;
      (5) The dangers described in subsection (3) of this section are heightened when the customer is a senior citizen or has a disability, especially if the customer uses a mobility aid, such as a wheelchair, walker, cane or crutches;
      (6) Attempts by other states to require the providing of aid to senior citizens and persons with disabilities in the self-service dispensing of Class 1 flammable liquids at retail have failed, and therefore, senior citizens and persons with disabilities must pay the higher costs of full service;
      (7) Exposure to toxic fumes represents a health hazard to customers dispensing Class 1 flammable liquids;
      (8) The hazard described in subsection (7) of this section is heightened when the customer is pregnant;
      (9) The exposure to Class 1 flammable liquids through dispensing should, in general, be limited to as few individuals as possible, such as gasoline station owners and their employees or other trained and certified dispensers;
      (10) The typical practice of charging significantly higher prices for full-service fuel dispensing in states where self-service is permitted at retail:
      (a) Discriminates against customers with lower incomes, who are under greater economic pressure to subject themselves to the inconvenience and hazards of self-service;
      (b) Discriminates against customers who are elderly or have disabilities who are unable to serve themselves and so must pay the significantly higher prices; and
      (c) Increases self-service dispensing and thereby decreases maintenance checks by attendants, which results in neglect of maintenance, endangering both the customer and other motorists and resulting in unnecessary and costly repairs;
      (11) The increased use of self-service at retail in other states has contributed to diminishing the availability of automotive repair facilities at gasoline stations;
      (12) Self-service dispensing at retail in other states does not provide a sustained reduction in fuel prices charged to customers;
      (13) A general prohibition of self-service dispensing of Class 1 flammable liquids by the general public promotes public welfare by providing increased safety and convenience without causing economic harm to the public in general;
      (14) Self-service dispensing at retail contributes to unemployment, particularly among young people;
      (15) Self-service dispensing at retail presents a health hazard and unreasonable discomfort to persons with disabilities, elderly persons, small children and those susceptible to respiratory diseases;
      (16) The federal Americans with Disabilities Act, Public Law 101-336, requires that equal access be provided to persons with disabilities at retail gasoline stations; and
      (17) Small children left unattended when customers leave to make payment at retail self-service stations creates a dangerous situation.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New "Album Cover" Car Art by Marrs

Silver Arrow #722
Accomplished automotive artist Marrs, a contributor to MotoArigato and owner of, has just introduced an incredible new series of fine art prints mainly featuring the classic automobiles of Mercedes-Benz. The new series is titled "Album Covers" and ingeniously features meticulously rendered examples of antique and classic steel in the size of, you guessed it, traditional 12-inch record album covers.  The first three in the series were unveiled today and include Stirling Moss's famous #722 Silver Arrow race car, the classic and sporty 190SL, and an elegant two-tone Ponton convertible. Completed in the artist's signature pop art style with brightly colored backgrounds and simplified lines, all while portraying elements such as chrome, glass and light in such realism that you would be hard pressed to tell tell the difference from the real thing in close-up. The artist promises to add many more prints over the coming weeks and says, "this will be my primary focus for 2012, it's a bit of a guilty pleasure for me."

With a background that includes working with artists as varied as Interpol to Johnny Cash's band,  Marrs describes his influence for this series, "I was lucky enough to be a part of the music business for many years and deeply cherish those memories. I wanted this new series to reflect that sense of play and excitement so I wanted to recall the tangible joy those of my generation felt when first picking up a new piece of vinyl, anxious to rush home so you could hear those first scratchy notes on your hi fi system." He added, "I've also always appreciated the car art Warhol made since most artists tend to paint or draw cars in the same settings or backgrounds, either tearing around a dirty back road with wheels straining awkwardly forward like in an old photo, or sitting airbrushed among neon signs and drive-in restaurants. There's certainly nothing wrong with those types of pieces and they certainly have their collectors, but I think car art can be elevated to Fine Art status if we pay attention to composition, quality, and especially quality of reproduction. When you create artwork that will compete for wall space in your client's homes, you must provide a product that not only looks beautiful, but will last a lifetime or more."

See more artwork by Marrs at his website:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Quick Pick: Love It or Leave It?

This 1955 Jaguar XK150 with custom "estate" body went to auction at Bonham's in the UK last September but was a no-sale with an estimate of $50-60,000 USD. A resourceful gentleman by the name of Geoffrey Stevens had this vehicle created during the 1970's to accommodate his Labrador dogs, since a cramped sports car is no place for a pair of man's best friends. He had the back half of a Morris Minor Traveler grafted to the chassis of his too-tiny Jag. Customizations have always been best viewed through tolerant glasses, and this one is no exception, surely rising the ire of millions of cat-car fans 'round the globe, but there is still something humble and lovely going on here. What do you think, would you be proud to get your groceries in this noble steed or is this creation purely for the dogs?

See a few more custom Jag estate cars at this link: Station Wagon Forums  <---Yes, wagon forums exist!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Historic Roller Map Replica Available From Sterling Moss

1955 Mille Miglia "Roller Map" Replica
Sir Sterling Moss is widely regarded as the most experienced, and quite possibly the most famous, living race car driver in the world. In 1955, Moss, along with navigator Denis "Jenks" Jenkinson, completed the treacherous Mille Miglia in record time and at a sustained average speed of nearly 98mph for the duration of the 1,000 mile event in their #722 factory sponsored 300SLR. The secret to the duo's miraculous success, other than the skill and experience of Moss himself, was the novel roller map devised by Jenks on pre-race laps of the circuit. The map itself was nothing more than penciled notes dictating the various obstacles, turns, elevation and speed changes, etc., that would be necessary during the race. The notes were compiled on a single long sheet of paper that was then fitted to a double roller system encased within a sturdy aluminum box with an acrylic window to make the notes visible on the go.

Now, the official website for Sterling Moss has a limited edition functional replica of this unique and historic device. In addition to the working, full scale replica, the kit also includes "tailored presentation boxes, complete with a numbered Certificate of Authentication individually signed by Sir Stirling" as well as a photo book of rarified images and Jenks' original post-race report as it first appeared in MotorSport magazine.

With an asking price of £749.95 ($1,178.12 at current exchange rate), the replica map box set may not be cheap, but you can be sure the racing/Mercedes/Moss enthusiast in your life will be the only kid on his block who has one. Available directly at now.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

This Is What's Left of John Travolta's Stolen Mercedes

You may remember hearing about John Travolta's vintage Mercedes-Benz that was stolen back in September of last year. Travolta's brown 1970 280sl was left unattended for only a brief time while the actor and pilot browsed the selection of a Santa Monica, California Jaguar dealer only to find it missing when he returned. Last week Santa Monica police arrested two men they believe stole the classic Benz and further attempted to profit from the sale of it's parts.  One of the two men identified as D. L. Rayford Jr., has already been sentenced to 16-months in jail and ordered to pay Travolta $50,000 in restitution, the other suspect, Michael T. Green, remains in jail awaiting sentencing.

We aren't sure how or where the men sold the removed parts, or if they had a chance to at all, but if you purchased parts from either of these individuals, or possibly even parts for a W113 from anyone in the Santa Monica/Los Angeles area since September of 2011, you may want to verify that they don't actually belong to John Travolta (or his insurance company by this point).  Remember, the theives could have used eBay, direct sales, Craigslist, enthusiast forums, and other avenues to fence their stolen goods. Contact the Santa Monica Police Department if you have any information relating to this case.

Sadly, this is most of what remains of Travolta's once-lovely W113.

More photos here: John Travolta's Stolen Mercedes Recovered In Pieces

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spy Shots: 2012 Mercedes-Benz A-class

Even though the upcoming redesigned A-class is still officially under wraps, a bicyclist in the Spanish Canary Islands with a mounted video camera managed to capture the undisguised car while it was being photographed for brochures and marketing materials.

Full video here:

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